I posted this pic of the cats to my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook feeds yesterday and got loads of questions back about the dorky bibs I make them wear, which I realise I’ve never properly showed to you.
We started letting the cats outside last year when they were about six months old and it soon became apparent that between the two of them they are fabulous birders. Since, as you know, I have a bird phobia, you can imagine how much I was enjoying them bringing back tiny grey birds with their heads ripped off. And I don’t think the birds were enjoying it very much either.
Deeply traumatised, I searched high and low online to see what could be done to stop them hunting and most websites informed me that it was an occupational hazard of cat ownership and that there was nothing I could do.
Until I came upon www.catgoods.com – which sells thin neoprene bibs, which apparently stop cats from catching birds by slightly hindering the overarm pouncing action and disrupting the precise timing they need to catch their prey.
Since I was at the end of my tether I decided to give them a try. And lo and behold they really do work. Over the last six months or so I think they’ve only managed to catch one bird between them while wearing their bibs (despite still being quite successful hunters when they go out bibless).
The bibs don’t seem to stop the cats doing anything else; they can still go in and out of the cat flap, climb trees and fences like crazy and jump prodigious heights with them on. And after the first few goes, they didn’t seem to mind wearing them at all, napping with them, eating with them and even grooming them. They do get a bit muddy in the Seattle rain, but, being neoprene, we just rinse them under the tap at night. I like that they make the cats more visible to traffic too, and they’re certainly good for striking up conversations with the neighbours. All in all, they have transformed my cat-owning life and probably saved the lives of dozens of birds. I can’t recommend them highly enough.
I’m writing this post as a public service announcement to help anyone who’s having the same trouble as us with prolific bird hunting. I would prefer it if we didn’t get into a conversation about indoor v. outdoor cats. I know letting cats outdoors is frowned on in the US, but we live on a VERY quiet urban street and our house backs onto a bunch of well-tended gardens. They have had all their outdoor vaccines and are brought in just before sundown and not let out until sunrise. The cats ADORE being outside, they even go out in the snow, and if you saw them you’d understand that I could no more keep them in than keep Nicole Kidman off Botox.